For Brianna Bocox the struggle makes her stronger

Nov. 08, 2019, 1:27 p.m. (ET)

Brianna Bocox had a difficult September. As one of the top long track skaters in the country, she had prepared all summer for the speedskating season and was ready to take on the world. Then she learned her coach, U.S. National Long Track Head Coach Ryan Shimabukuro, had suffered a heart attack and would not be coaching for several months.  Bri was devastated.

“Honestly, I was very upset that it happened. Since the beginning of my career, I’ve been coached by Ryan. I’m so glad he’s going to be okay, but it was really hard.”

It didn’t help that just a few weeks later, Bri’s grandma passed away. Bri describes her grandma as a woman who cared about everyone in her path. It was through her financial support that Bri was able to move to Utah to train with the national team.

“She was literally my everything. I was able to do what I do because of her. She was always there, always supporting me and always loved me no matter what.”

Two big blows in a short amount of time left Bri reeling and she couldn’t seem to mentally get back on track. “I didn’t know what to do. I kept waiting for a magical race that would change my mindset. I finally realized, I had to change it myself.”

It didn’t happen overnight. She had to go through the emotion of loss and allow herself to grieve before she could move on and refocus on upcoming competitions. By the time the long track world cup qualifier came around in late October, Bri was back on her game.

She qualified to race the world cup circuit in three distances: 500m, 1000m and 1500m. As one of the fastest women in the country, she’s ready to see how she measures up to international competition.

Bri will skate all four world cups traveling to Belarus, Norway, Kazakhstan and Japan before returning to Salt Lake City to prepare for the U.S. Championships in December. “I feel better prepared and more confident about executing my races. I’m technically more stable. At the end of last season, I made some big breakthroughs and I’m ready for this season to start.”

Apprehensive about the eight weeks of travel as she leaves her two dogs Bobby and Bron behind, she’s excited to skate in new venues, especially Japan where she’ll be joined by her mom and stepdad. On top of being a world-class speedskater, Bri is finishing up her degree in forensic science with classes like firearm analysis. As a senior at Utah Valley University, she’s grateful for her instructors who will work with her as she travels to compete with Team USA.

 “Bri is fun to work with because she’s very coachable, listens and works very hard,” says coach Shimabukuro. “She has set high goals for herself and is extremely motivated to achieve them, so I’m excited to see what the future holds for her.”